Nikolaj Horunzhij, political contributor At the threshold of SCO / SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organization

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At the threshold of SCO
16.11.2011 12:51 Nikolaj Horunzhij, political contributor

Very soon, Russia and China would like to see India and Pakistan among the members of SCO. This was announced in the last day of October in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia following the results of Moscow political preliminary negotiations between deputy foreign minister Aleksej Borodavkin and his Chinese colleague Cheng Guoping.

The parties declared for speeding up of the process of expanding of SCO following the decision of Council of heads of the member states of SCO, which was made in June in Astana, commented the ministry. - This refers to granting a membership in the Organization for India and Pakistan, adoption of Afghanistan as an observer country and granting Turkey with status of a partner in dialogue.

The diplomatic department informed that views of the parties on the issues of further improvement of activity of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in view of preparation for meeting of Council of heads of the member states of SCO scheduled for 7th of November in Saint Petersburg and SCO summit on summer of 2012 in China were coordinated during the meeting.

Adoption of new members to SCO is a real bombshell. For many years India, Pakistan and Iran are striving for membership in the Organization and Afghanistan is actively cooperates with SCO without such a position. After US declaration on reduction of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan by 2014 the political situation in the region begins to change. More than likely that China, which opposed to adoption of India into SCO has realized danger of infiltration of mujahiddins into Central Asia. In September in Beijing took place a meeting of RATS (Regional Anti Terrorist Structure), one of the most important events organized by China during its presidency in SCO (China took presidency in SCO from Kazakhstan on the Julys summit in Astana). As a result, PRC agreed upon inclusion in organization of its old regional rival with provision that its old regional ally, the Pakistan would also be adopted into Organization.

Sean Roberts, head of international development program at George Washington University thinks that Afghanistan is the issue that combines SCO countries from one side and USA and Europe from the other. On the eve of Tashkent summit of SCO in June of last year he stated that: I believe that SCO countries can play a very important role in stabilization of situation in Afghanistan that is why I am looking forward to see the kind of discussion of Afghan issue at the summit and what conclusion the participants will come to. Resolution on Afghanistan could be the main outcome of the summit. Then the resolution has not been adopted but probably the discussion of this issue has passed into practical level.

However, not only Afghanistan gets SCO and USA closer. The White House tries to get an access to the process of political decision making within SCO. As early as summer this year American analysts were trying the idea of expansion of cooperation with this organization. In October the mass-media announced the desire of Obamas administration to start negotiations with SCO on defining of type of cooperation. American diplomacy makes allowance for two types. The first one is granting the Washington with a status of observer country. The second is obtaining by United States of status of a partner in dialogue with SCO.

Status of a partner in dialogue does not assume an access to the confidential documents of the Organization. However, partner can have a look at their content by request. The first step for such practice could be a renewal of American - Uzbek partnership. The Washington supports projects of increasing of number of SCO partner states. The Americans push the application submitted by the Turkey (a member of NATO) at 21st of October and stand for integration of India and Pakistan, which actively cooperate with USA in political field with USA into SCO. Meanwhile, USA continue its police of development of bilateral dialogue and partnership with all countries of the region except may be Turkmenistan.

Actions of USA can change the character of SCO. In 2001 the Organization has been established as a system for keeping of regional security. Concept of Russian Chinese Moscow declaration on multilateral world of 1997 and The gig treaty between Russia and PRC of 2001 are constituting the background of SCO. They were based upon inviolability of the sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect for each countrys right to choose of its own way of development and mutual support in struggle against the separatism. Those principles are the alternative to American concept of expansion of democracy by changing of the regimes.

Today the SCO may face the same problem as it was in 2002. Then the George W. Bush administration used to rise a question of possibility of entrance of USA to SCO or granting of a status of associate member to it. Propositions of the White house have taken the SCO by surprise. The Uzbekistan has supported the candidacy of USA. The PRC opposed it. Russia and Kazakhstan wished to maintain the integrity of the Organization and at the same time were against disputes with the Americans, which were at war with Taliban.

Dialogue with Washington is necessary for SCO for increasing of regional security in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, majority of member states of the Organization are feared the US influence on the process of decision-making. That is why Moscow and Beijing have to solve the principle question: How to establish a dialogue between the SCO and USA when Washington is interested in dialogue with Central Asian states beyond Russia and China?

Negotiations with USA regarding its status is question of the future. So far, the entrance of India and Pakistan can facilitate solving their territorial disputes. Granting Afghanistan with a status of observer member will allow the countries of the region not only assist it on the legal basis but enquire it about with such issues as drug trafficking and struggling with religious extremism as well. At the same time adoption of Afghanistan into SCO as an observer member, will be an implicit recognition by members of the Organization of legitimacy of permanent NATO and American bases on its territory, which will remain even after withdrawal of ISAF from the country in 2014.

Meanwhile, none of the SCO members is ready to take military participation in fighting with Afghan opposition inside the Afghanistan. To tell the truth, China has announced that if it will appear in Afghanistan it will only be under the auspices of UN and as a part of International Security Forces.

A plan to establish of such forces has been announced in June this year at anniversary summit of SCO in Astana by Nazarbaev, president of Kazakhstan. He proposed to establish a structure within SCO aimed at settlement of territorial and regional conflicts. Although initially the SCO was aimed at settlement of border issues between PRC and former Soviet counties and only then the Organization has increased the economic component while maintaining the issue of fighting with terrorism, extremism, separatism and drug trafficking.

It would seem that in order to strengthen the regional security USA should pay its attention to such a regional military structure as CSTO, which offers cooperation with NATO on fighting the drug trafficking and exportation of jihad itself. However, absence of China within CSTO makes this organization less interesting for USA than SCO. Besides, in Washingtons mind a prospect of strengthening of military and political structure of SCO is fraught with more large-scale consequences than strengthening of military organization of CSTO.

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